Why We Took the Car

Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd

Review

Already a German award-winner, Mohr's English translation of Herrndorf's only young adult novel engulfs us in the chaotic teenage world of Mike Klingensberg. At fourteen, Mike has a dysfunctional family life, no friends and an unrequited crush on his classmate Natalie. He is reluctantly drawn into friendship with the new pupil Tschik, another misfit at school. During the summer vacation they take off in a 'borrowed' Lada to find Tschik's mythical roots in the south.

Intensely sad and funny, this Bildungsroman skilfully encapsulates adolescent angst, and examines complicated teenage thought processes. Adults are shown to be unreliable, and while Mike and Tschik discover loyalty and gain a degree of self-awareness, the final pages offer no real clue to their ultimate fate.

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